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Bandah Aceh to Takengon


With the minibus leaving predictably late, I was at least pleasantly surprised by my first ride in a "Colt", there being remarkably generous legroom and more or less assigned seating. It was not the crush I had anticipated and it was just as well since in retracing the Eastern coastal road as far as the town of Bireuen then turning inland and upwards, it still took us 8 and a half hours on a surprisingly good and fast if narrow twisty surface. As we climbed, the palm groves gave way to more subtropical foliage and banana plantations, with some fantastic views of tropical rolling topography and the odd cloud engulfed volcano. Although it literally meant going round the houses towards journeys end, another revelation was the very convenient door to door service, devoid of a map I would have certainly struggled to track down my favoured restspot. The Bunda Kubu Hotel was a pleasant wooden villa atop a small hill which in its day had served as a Dutch colonial HQ, a museum and a military post, with much of the building now dedicated to a clinic. It afforded great views of the sizeable nearby lake, almost reminiscent of Loch Leven were it not for the haven of fishing boats and stilt houses running into it, all set a against a backdrop of cloud capped mountains. Takengon was an early 20th century Dutch creation, an unremarkable town of modern blocks untypical of a hill station, though the climate was certainly commensurately more amenable here. After heading out in search of a much needed net cafe and remarkably finding one, there was a slight chill in the air for the first time in ages as I walked back amongst more friendly faces to find Nasi Goreng (fried rice), duck and superstrong unpalatable cinnamon tea. The setting really made the place though and I was glad just to be heading in the right direction at last. Takengon's attractions were all natural, either canoeing the lake, caving or hill treks, but with the last weeks exploits it didnt sway me to loiter more than one night. Or at least thats what I thought. Waking up to find myself nauseous the next morning, I graduallly developed a thumping head and realised I had picked up another food bug. It was always the chance you took eating out of small grungy slophouses and market stalls, but more often than not that was the sole choice. My first time ill since the Subcontinent, I actualy vomited this time besides the usual dhiorrea, and I lost a whole day to it just trying to sleep it off. I had to be glad though it wasnt more severe or worse still, developing into a fever. Malaria was no joke around here, the worlds biggest killer excepting maybe Sydney Devine albums. In a late foray on wobbly aching legs necessitated by the need for water, I found myself in long trousers and rain jacket for the first time in ages. It really was very cool here now, with the overnight storm having endured most of the day for once as though to match my condition. I managed 2 hours on the net so that the day wasnt a total loss.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Indonesia

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